Sunday, 23 December 2007

a lovely surprise in the post

I had a surprise package in the post yesterday, from Marie at, containing two gifts:

Firstly a beautiful needlefelted purse embellished with masses of tiny beads and hand-made braid. I've admired and coveted her bags and purses for some time now so I really was delighted to receive this, which I think is a particularly good one. I keep taking it out and stroking it. My mobile phone fits into it perfectly, though it took me a while to work out that that was what it is designed for (I can be really thick about such luxury items at times).

It has also marked a change in my thinking: at one time anything as beautiful as this would have been too good to use, and would have been placed carefully in a drawer with other treasures and saved. Now I think this is too good not to use: I want to have the joy of seeing it and using it every day - it's far too beautiful to languish in a drawer!

The second photograph shows the back which is no less beautifully embellished than the front.

And this came with it - a beautifully dyed piece - I think with walnut shells (?): I remember admiring the walnut dyeing on Marie's blog some time ago. You can't see too clearly in the photograph but it has lovely intricate patterning.

Some people don't believe it's possible to have "cyber-friends": I really appreciate all my friends, cyber and otherwise!

And in case I don't see you before then have a wonderful Christmas everybody!

Friday, 21 December 2007

cats' christmas update

It gets better.

I've now visited the cattery to check it out.

The cats get the radio left on (with music) to make them feel at home. Not only do they get home-cooked turkey, chicken or meat on Christmas day, but they get individual Christmas stockings complete with toys and treats. They also get played with and cuddled.

The cat-guests who were there when I visited were lively and friendly (well there was one sitting sulking but there's always one isn't there?), running to the front of the pens with tails up and expecting to be stroked, which was the best of all.

I'm just hoping they'll still want to come home when I collect them after Christmas!

A footnote on Edwardian artist Louis Wain. Though he was best known for his cartoonish pictures of cats, he also produced a number of more abstract works such as the ones above. These are often cited as a "progression" illustrating his "descent into madness" (he suffered from late-onset schizophrenia): in fact though this looks like a sequence, the works were not necessarily produced in sequence, since many of the "abstract" ones were produced earlier than some of the "naturalistic" ones (the so-called sequence was put together by an academic anxious to prove a point) - perhaps Wain was simply, like many artists, exploring ideas!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

cats' christmas

Okay so I finally did it - booked my three furry companions into the cattery for Christmas; my usual one was fully booked and I've had to book them in somewhere else (I'm going to check it out tomorrow) which was the only one I could find that wasn't fully booked up, probably (hopefully) because it is more expensive than the others and charges a significant amount extra for Christmas Day: I assumed that this was because staff were being paid extra (I hope they are - anyone working Christmas Day deserves it) but I was told that the real reason is that the cats get extra attention on Christmas Day plus a cooked Christmas dinner! I still can't get out of my head the picture of a whole crowd of cats with party hats on, pulling Christmas crackers and playing pass the parcel. Still it's nice to know they'll get nice treats for Christmas (though I shall be giving them their own Christmas when I get back from visiting my brother in Oxford) (just in case anyone thinks I'm a bad mum).

Anyway the picture I formed of the Christmas cattery scene reminded me of the illustrations of artist Louis Wain, who drew and painted a whole series of anthropomorphic cats in the middle of the nineteenth century. These are two of his works which seem to fit the situation, and are close to the picture I conjured up (though I trust mouse pie will not actually be on the menu).

Thursday, 13 December 2007

pieces and patches and studio helpers

During the studio makeover, which was at times more like an excavation, I found several pieces of patchwork I did some time ago. This is a sample I made for a workshop I taught on using mathematical progressions (I will do a tutorial on this in the new year) - hand-dyed fabrics and machine quilting.

The second is a different mathematical idea - I like the way the shapes form and unform in different parts of the piece.
I also found a number of improvisationally pieced bits. One I bound and kept separate as a small quiltlet (8" square). The colours were based on summer fields and landscapes and seascapes near Berwick-upon-Tweed.

At my friend Judith's suggestion I stitched three of these together to make a long thin wallhanging - a reminder of those warm summer days!

As usual while I was photographing these Django came along and insisted on having his photograph taken:

And for once I managed to get Pepper - who's somewhat camera-shy -

to pose for the camera! Pepper is, without a doubt, the nicest-natured cat I've ever known; he's even nice to other cats, even ones that he doesn't live with!